City’s Police Code prohibits cannabis sales at events; long-running Golden Gate Park 4/20 celebration remains BYO; local implementation of new state law in doubt.


SAN FRANCISCO — Tweak your 2019 4/20 expectations.

Two years into cannabis legalization in California, you may be able to openly smoke pot on cannabis’ most highly revered day of celebration but you will still have to bring your own, never mind scoring any legal state-licensed commercial cannabis at America’s first and longest-running pot party in a public park.

You may blame The Man.

While a new state law took effect Jan. 1 allowing commercial cannabis events in venues beyond previously allowed state-operated fairgrounds, San Francisco’s Police Code prohibits events featuring cannabis sales.

And although cannabis consumption at Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill 420 celebration has been officially tolerated by San Francisco police since 2017, the first year the gathering was sanctioned by the city’s Recreation and Park Department since it began about 40 years ago, a Hippie Hill 420 featuring permitted cannabis sales won’t get the state’s blessing because in order to get the state’s blessing it must first get the city’s blessing and Article 16 of San Francisco’s Police Code trumps any hope.

San Francisco cannabis czar Nicole Elliott said the Board of Supervisors would have to amend the City Code, a legislative process with more steps than there are indoor cultivation seasons.

“In the absence of those legislated changes, no legal commercial sales may occur at a 420 event such as this,” Elliott said.